Responsible Wood is pleased to introduce new guidance that presents an innovative opportunity that enables certified forest managers operating under AS/NZS 4708:2021 to enhance their scope of certification by showcasing verified ecosystem services. This new guidance allows forest managers to make substantiated claims about the non-wood forest values and benefits that are managed within certified forests.
In both global and Australian contexts, the concept of ecosystem services is gaining prominence as a comprehensive way to describe the diverse range of benefits that society derives from the environment. This paradigm shift is not only shaping how we manage biodiversity, water resources, primary industries, the built environment, regional planning, and climate change but is also revolutionising sustainable environmental management practices and bringing with it new strategies to boost landscape resilience.
“We recognise the increasing recognition and adoption of ecosystem services globally, and its significance in our approach to sustainable forest management,” commented Simon Dorries, CEO of Responsible Wood.
“Our new guidance enables certified forest managers to align their practices with this change of perspective, underscoring a forest manager’s commitment to holistic forest management that brings many benefits for landowners and society.”
Sustainably managed forests have been proven to produce many advantages beyond traditional timber production. These include crucial ecosystem services like biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, soil retention, water purification, and recreational amenities. Responsible Wood’s guidance for accredited certification bodies who audit AS/NZS 4708 conformity facilitates seamless integration of these services into the scope of certification, effectively showcasing forest managers’ dedication to comprehensive and responsible management practices.
“AS/NZS 4708:2021 was developed as a management system standard for forest ecosystems as a whole and intended to allow the certification of the full range of values and benefits which forests provide to society, not just responsibly sourced forest products.”
By encompassing these services within their certification scope, forest managers reaffirm their role in supporting essential ecological processes while contributing to a sustainable and resilient environment.
The joint Australian and New Zealand Standard serves as the foundation for this initiative, providing a robust framework for sustainable forest management. The guidance presented by Responsible Wood assists certified forest managers in systematically incorporating verified ecosystem services into their scope of certification through a meticulous process of identifying, verifying, and integrating these services into their forest management systems.
Through rigorous auditing conducted by accredited certification bodies, forest managers’ practices are meticulously scrutinized to ensure they effectively manage and adhere to sustainability criteria related to verified ecosystem services. Through verification, as a part of the audit process, certified forest managers can publicly confirm their commitment to inclusive forest management through certification documentation and claims. Organisations that have these ecosystem services added to their scope of certification will be featured on Responsible Wood and PEFC find certified databases, further communicating credibility and transparency.
As Responsible Wood continues to champion sustainable forest management that benefits ecosystems, communities, and industries, the introduction of this guidance underscores a commitment to fostering a sustainable industry with multi-generational benefits in addition to renewable forest products.